Traditional techniques stare at extinction

first_imgKeeping a close eye on the earthen pot, Manglem P. is heedful of the last drop that may plop through the hole at its bottom any second. As soon as it does, he springs forth towards a frame set on a throne under a canopy. And nimbly prods to one end a pierced Kang seed, eight of them dangling from a thread taut between a wooden female idol and a male one. Then, at his gesture, a player standing next to him strikes a drum once with a whack, signalling the passage of an hour. But now, the timekeeping method practised by Manipuri rulers for centuries, Tanyeishang, requiring a priest and a drummer to man three devices round the clock, has given way to a much simpler, convenient and economical alternative — the mechanical clock.Patronised by kingsPatronised by the rulers of Manipurs and practised in palaces for centuries, the demanding method is now confined to the Meitei New Year celebration in April. And the setting of its devices — an earthen vessel, two pots, a frame and a drum — has become a place of worship in Imphal East district. On the occasion of International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on Friday, villagers from across States, including Manipur, demonstrated the workings of such traditional technologies, staring at extinction due to mechanisation and low demand, at installations at the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya here.“Tribals and villagers are not only close to nature, they still negotiate their lives using these elementary technologies. They have survived using these for hundreds of years. But gradually, these are getting wiped out from the collective societal base,” Sarit K. Chaudhuri, director of the museum. At another installation, Sakuntala boils saline water extracted from a tree trunk for three-four hours, scoops out salty froth and spatters it over a cloth to let it dry. “Many back in Manipur have given up this method of making salt. A 100 gm of it sells for ₹20 and 1 kg of packed iodised salt sells for the same amount. Therefore, people buy it only on rare occasions like marriages and rituals,” she said.last_img

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